four the family Not yet (due Q4) / #Ferrari-GTC4
/ Ferrari /
THE FF’S SUCCESSOR MATES 4WD AND 4WS WITH V12 GOODNESS
Sculpted flanks have helped the GTC4Lusso shed some visual weight.
Lovely cabin, but you’ll be too busy using the 507kW to notice.
Seats fold flat for those Joshua Doore runs Ferrari owners always do at weekends.
GTC4Lusso has many, many screens. Which one runs Mario Kart?
ENGINE 6262cc #V12
POWER 507kW, 697Nm
MPG 15l/100km, 350g/km CO2
PERFORMANCE 0-100kph in 3.4sec, 335kph
VERDICT A thoroughly overhauled and updated FF. Still does the same job, but does it with more panache and dynamism. 9/10
Maybe the name was too literal. FF. Four-seater, four-wheel drive. Not very sexy. Whatever the reason, it’s now the GTC4Lusso. As names go, this one is a bit clunky and not strictly accurate (the initials stand for Gran-Turismo-Competizione ), but it does talk to Ferrari’s history. And Ferrari is good at liaising with its back catalogue, not just through plucked names, but through model continuation – the mid-engined V8 sports car, the front-engined V12 coupé. These are long-running themes over at Maranello.
The FF may have introduced 4wd to the Ferrari idiom, but its strategy was entirely familiar. Here was a front-engine V12 four-seater that could actually seat four, and for extra brownie points, swallow their luggage too. It required little compromise, delivered where it needed to, exceeded expectations. Five years on, it’s had a freshen up.
For the most part, this is entirely predictable. It’s got a bit more power, a little less weight, rear passengers have 16mm more legroom, emissions have dropped, the infotainment is improved. But one thing is perhaps surprising: it still uses a naturally aspirated 6.3-litre V12. We’re not used to this. Where are the turbos?
Aston has been forced to fit them to the new DB11 to keep it class competitive, M likewise Ferrari’s own 488 GTB. Competition is the reason. The 488 gained blowers not because of emissions legislation, but because it was at risk of being out-powered by Porsche and McLaren. But the GTC4 is different. It has no natural rivals – there’s nothing out there, literally nothing, with even remotely the same skill set.
So a naturally aspirated V12 it is. And Ferrari has not left the old 485kW unit alone. The compression ratio has been raised, the piston design has changed, there’s now multispark ignition; and as a result, power has climbed 22kW. 507kW is a big number, enough (with tweaks to the gearbox and traction software) to knock 0.3secs off the 0-100kph time. But what I like most about it is that it now starts more quietly in the mornings.
Ferrari has been listening to its customers, and they said they didn’t want it to be quite so effusive first thing. So now the exhaust baffles stay closed more when the engine is cold or at low speeds. You see this response to customer feedback in other places as well. The steering wheel is new, equipped with bigger pads for the headlights and wipers and indicators that can be activated by fingers from behind as well as thumbs at the front. It’s more functional; but aesthetically? Not so good. That’s the trouble with responding to customer feedback – the customer ain’t always right.
The rest of the cabin is close to being a triumph. The new dash design, which incorporates a ten-inch central screen and a separate passenger display, is a big improvement. It’s quick and slick, and the passenger can keep themselves occupied making phone calls, controlling music, fiddling with the satnav and seeing how fast the driver is actually going.
Size-wise it’s a little bigger in all three dimensions, but we’re talking millimetres here, and the thing was already the size of an S-Class. It’s better looking, though. The new strakes behind the front wheels have helped shorten the profile visually, while the rear haunches are more curvaceous. The back end, bracketed top and bottom by an integrated spoiler and underbody diffuser, looks really cool. The rear hatch is more upright, improving both stowage and aero, apparently. I love the way it looks from the rear three-quarter – the front I can take or leave, but the rear sells me on the whole car.
Overall there’s more tension to the surfacing, more sculpting. The FF used to look like a long, thin, pencil-ish car, but the GTC4Lusso comes across as a bit shorter and broader. That change is reflected in the driving. The track widths have barely changed, yet it feels more broad-shouldered through turns, and quite a bit stubbier than its 4922mm length suggests.
There’s a reason for that. A veritable legion of acronyms underpins the GTC4Lusso’s chassis, but I’m going to concentrate on just one of them: 4RM-S, which manages the four-wheel drive and new four-wheel-steering system. It works in harmony with SSC4, SCM-E and E-Diff (in order: side slip control, adaptive damping and electronic differential), but I only mention them to show the complexity and integration of the various systems that keep the car pointing in the desired direction on a thin ribbon of tarmac laid over a treacherous Dolomite.
Anyway, the four-wheel steering really does make the GTC4 more agile than the FF. The car is a bit lighter, which helps with direction changes, but this system, which is almost entirely unobtrusive, makes the GTC4 sharper into corners and gives it a more attacking, willing demeanour. Almost unobtrusive – it occasionally felt snatchy coming out of tight corners, meaning I hadn’t wound the lock off the super-fast steering quite fast enough. But that absolutely the only time I ever felt the GTC4 wasn’t 100 per cent cohesive.
You must remember it’s a big, heavy car, and one not particularly designed for the area Ferrari has chosen to launch it in. Yes, I’m sure some owners do take their cars skiing, but hairpins are not a natural stamping ground for a 1920kg, long-wheelbase grand tourer. Still, the GTC4 looks beautiful in the Dolomites and does a far better job of controlling its weight on these tight, difficult roads than I’d anticipated. On the few open sweepers we encounter, it’s clearly in its element, big engine howling, just a sniff of steering lock applied, but the tight stuff gives you plenty of proof about how well this car apportions torque to each wheel. It’s very, very effective.
And so well-controlled. Initially I was surprised that the GTC4 didn’t have the same suppleness in its suspension as the 488GTB, but the more I drove it, the more I came to appreciate how exceptional the wheel control is. It’s not uncomfortable at all, it just deals with stuff in a completely unflappable manner. Little disturbs the on-board calm.
Little except the engine, of course. Yes, it now has an extra 22kW and 15Nm, but it’s the sheer drivability that sets it apart. This is an utterly triumphant engine: epic reach, and spectacular harmonics. I love the way the GTC4 deals with corners; but the best bit is when you get the power on, feel all four wheels work the last part of the corner, then the V12 hurls you up the straight. It does have reasonable torque at the bottom end; but forget that, because it’s what happens higher up that counts. The GTC4Lusso is such a special car.
I was sceptical about how much of a step forward over the FF it would be when the basic concept remains so similar, but it’s a wholesale inside-and-out reworking that’s lost nothing, gained extra dynamism, and retained the atmospheric V12. Good news all round.